In 2019, Robin John Calalo put up an ihaw-ihaw business in New York with just $50 or P2,500. Working with what innards were available in the market, not surprisingly his first customers were his friends and family, who, like him, were craving a taste of home.
In the Philippines, of course, these streetside grills are in every corner, selling isaw (chicken or pork intestines), betamax (blood), adidas (chicken feet), and other street food.
According to an interview with “24 Oras,” from his initial $50 capital, Calalo now earns as much as $4,000 or P200,000 a week. He sells each piece at $3.50.
Even for Calalo, the boom in his business is unexpected. He says that today, even non-Filipinos flock to his pop-ups. The latest is at 60-11 39th Ave. at a café in Queens called Bee Garden, where he currently has barbecues (Pinoy style, of course!) on Fridays. Filipinos can also get a taste of his skewered goods through Filipino restaurants Tradisyon and Amazing Grace.
Other than selling cooked barbecue, Calalo’s Isaw Boy also sells ready-to-grill isaw, betamax, adidas, and tenga ng baboy skewered on bamboo sticks so customers can do their own grilling at home.